Gold Thread (Coptis groenlandica)

Golden Seal Identification:
A small, perennial, low-growing evergreen herb, 4 to 6 inches tall. The leaves are dark, shiny, evergreen; divided like those of wild strawberries. The stems are many; wiry, branched, and frequently Gold Thread Flower
matted. The roots are long, slender, creeping, and a bright golden yellow color. The flowers are about 1/2 inch wide, white, grow at the end of leafless stems that extend away from the base of the plant, in early summer. One to three flowers have 5 to 8 narrow sepals and 5 to 7 narrow petals. When the petals fall off, the remaining green sepals and subsequent fruits look like odd, green, star-shaped flowers. The hollow seed-bearing capsules spread apart at maturity.
Family: Ranunculaceae (Buttercup family)
Other Names: Canker root, Gold Thread
Flowers: May – July
Parts Used: Primarily the root, but all parts of the plant are active.
Habitat: Occurs in thickets, mossy places, cedar swamps, and in damp woods. Canada to North Carolina mountains; Tennessee north to northern Ohio, Indiana, and Iowa.
Hardy to USDA Zone 3 (average minimum annual temperature -40°F. Prefers cool, moist acidic soils (pH of 4.0 to 5.0) and bog-like conditions rich in humus. Does not easily tolerate summer temperatures above 80°F.
History:
The native Americans and early settlers chewed the roots of the Gold Thread to treat fever blisters and canker sores, hence the name Canker Root. They also used a tea to treat sore throats. In 1785, Shakers paid money for the dried plant and roots to use in a similar remedy. Some families, in order to earn extra money, would go into areas with an abundance of Gold Thread, sit near a smoky fire to keep bugs away, and dig the plants up with their bare hands by the wagon load.
Constituents: Berberine and coptine, butter alkaloids with strong antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities. Active properties similar to Goldenseal make Golden Thread an excellent substitute for Goldenseal in situations where pathogenic microbes can be directly attacked, such as bacterial infection of the throat and mouth, or in the treatment of conjunctivitis. In a recent study in China, Gold Thread demonstrated promising activities against HIV, infectious hepatitis, and various strains of influenza.
Medicinal Properties: Native Americans chewed the roots of Gold Thread to treat mouth sores. They also make tea from the roots to treat mouth sores and bacterial infection. The tea was also used as an eyewash, to treat indigestion, and as a tonic after prolonged illness. In New England Gold Thread is valued as a local application in thrush, for children. Tea used to treat jaundice, sore throat, and stomach cramps. Caution: Do not use during pregnancy!
Preparation and dosages:
Tincture: [Fresh Plant, 1:2, Dry Root, 1:5, 50% alcohol] 30 to 60 drops, up to 3 times a day.
Topically as needed, either diluted or strong decoction.

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